Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Summer Fun #62: Suminagashi: The Art of Japanese Paper Marbling

Suminagashi  (sue-me-NAH-gah-she),  which means literally "ink-floating," is the ancient Japanese technique of marbling paper with inks. It originating in China over 2,000 years ago and practiced in Japan by Shinto priests as early as the 12th century. Japanese Sumi-e inks were originally used, dropped carefully to float on a still water surface and then blown across to form delicate swirls, after which the ink was picked up by laying a sheet of white rice paper atop the ink covered water.
I first saw this art form at Inner Child Fun and I used the Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit Valerie suggests. This kit uses dyes that you drip onto the surface of water.
To make the water surface, you will need a dishpan or the like that can hold a few inches of water.
Some marbling kits come with circles of float paper that you can drop the ink onto so that the ink doesn't sink to the bottom. You can also use pieces of styrofoam. Other sets have you load up a brush with ink, which is then gently lowered to the surface of the water.
With either method, to create designs, gently swirl the ink on the surface with a brush or by blowing gently on the surface of the water either directly, or with a straw.

When you are satisfied with your design, lay paper or whatever material you want to use (any material that can soak up water such as cloth or wood) on the dye.

Lift up to reveal your design on the paper. Place the marbled paper face up on newspaper to dry. Excess color can be rinsed off under running water first. Once the paper is dry, you can add a second layer of marbling, just as you did the first.
This "fire" effect was created by blowing on the surface of the water after inking.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Beautiful!

    My kids made these at a summer art program at an art museum once. They turned out so beautifully that they were one of their favorite art projects. We were going to make some at home and turn them into note cards but we never got around to it.

  3. Phyllis! These are beautiful. I am going to show Keilee right now. I know we have a new project for next week. Love them!

  4. Those always turn out so pretty. I've had the shaving cream version on my to do list for a VERY long time.

    1. We have done the shaving cream version, too...
      We found the Suminagashi to be more fun and the results were brighter in color.

  5. Amazing and beautiful results!!


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